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Play & Plant

Toy Design
A biodegradable toy that transforms as the child grows older.
Project Type

Individual, Studio Class


15 weeks


5, Fall 2022


Approximately 80% of all toys end up in landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.

Tansy Robertson-Fall

How might we design a children's toy that reduces toy waste?

Literature Insights

Product design can reduce the impact on hotspots discovered in the product's life cycle using knowledge-based solutions and heuristics.

One of the proposed design solutions to improve product disposal was the use of
biodegradable materials.


1. Sustainable product design: A life-cycle approach
Contributors: Xiang Zhang, Lei Zhang, Ka Yip Fung, Bhavik R. Bakshi, Ka Ming Ng

2. Circular Economy in the Chemical and Materials Industry
Contributors: The Global Kaiteki Center at Arizona State University,
Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service (ASU), The Sustainability Consortium (ASU), Luminosity Lab (ASU), The Ohio State University (OSU)

Parent Interview Insights

parents involve their child in outdoor yard/garden maintenance

parents say their child maintain the skills they learn from toys

parents say their child enjoys spending time with nature

Children lose interest in toys quickly

Children enjoy unstructured learning

Durability and developmental benefits are the main considerations when purchasing toys

Hemp Biodegradability Experiment

I tested:
Biodegradability rate of 2 weights of hemp fabric
Plant growth ability in hemp fabric
Start date: 9/18/2022
End date: 11/18/2022
-Indoor planter on counter
-Indoor planter in window
-Outdoor planter
Each planter has:
-Control seeds
-2.8oz hemp square with seeds -4.6oz hemp square with seeds



Early Concept Ideation

"Play & Plant" Concept

In the early years the toy will serve as a pretend play toy where the child plants soft toys into a planter.
When the child grows up, they can plant the soft toys which will biodegrade and grow into plants.

Form Development

Large Planter Concepts

Large scale toys tend to last longer in the household, so I ideated some large scale planter forms

Single Planter Concepts

These were meant to be simple and portable, allowing for more users to have access to the product

Multi-Planter Concepts

These were made to be slightly larger than the single planters, but more engaging with more components

Selected Form

Stage 1: Ages 3-5

Open lid and collect toys

Pretend "plant" the soft toys

Play around with the different pieces

Store toys in planter when play is over

Stage 2: Ages 6+

Disassemble fabric "soil" and place at the bottom of the planter

Gather gardening supplies

Fill planter with toys and soil

Water and watch them grow

Reuse planter